Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture


Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO

Fr Frank BrennanJesuit priest Fr Frank Brennan is chief executive officer of Catholic Social Services Australia – the Catholic Church's peak body for social services in Australia.

Fr Frank has been a long-time advocate for human rights and social justice in Australia.

His contact and involvement with people who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged began early in his priestly ministry when he worked in the inner Sydney parish of Redfern with priest activist Father Ted Kennedy. In every role he has had since, he has been amplifying the voice of conscience, especially the voice of those who are marginalised.

Frank is an adjunct professor at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. He is also the superior of the Jesuit community at Xavier House in Canberra.

Rev Canon Scott Cowdell

Canon Scott CowdellFr Scott Cowdell is Research Professor at the Charles Sturt University Centre for Public and Contextual Theology (PACT), also Canon Theologian of the Canberra-Goulburn Anglican Diocese. He was Rector of All Saints', Chermside, in Brisbane, Farnham Maynard Lecturer in Theology at Trinity College, Melbourne, Principal of St Barnabas' Theological College, Adelaide and Rector of St Paul's, Manuka, in Canberra. A longstanding Member of the Doctrine Commission and a former Editor of St Mark's Review, he is Founding President of the Australian Girard Seminar.

Prof. Cowdell is the author of seven books exploring the interface between Christianity and contemporary Western culture, and editor of three. His current research project is on the work of today's premier theorist of violence, culture and religion, René Girard. His publications include God's Next Big Thing: Discovering the Future Church; Abiding Faith: Christianity Beyond Certainty, Anxiety, and Violence and René Girard and Secular Modernity: Christ, Culture, and Crisis.

Dr Rosamund Dalziell

Ros DalziellDr Rosamund Dalziell is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. Ros has a PhD in Literature from the Australian National University, an M.A. in French from Oxford University and a Graduate Diploma in Education from University of Canberra. She was a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the ANU Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, convenor of the ANU National Institute for the Humanities and Visiting Fellow in the School of Humanities/Cultural Inquiry. Ros has taught literature at the ANU, Australian Catholic University and Narrabundah College, and adult migrant English at CIT. At St Mark's National Theological Centre Ros completed courses in theology while working at AusAid and later the Zadok Institute for Christianity and Society. Ros is convenor of the Faith Based Working Group of Canberra Refugee Action Committee. She is an active lay member of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra Goulburn.

Ros is the author of Shameful Autobiographies: Shame in Australian Autobiography and Culture (Melbourne University Press 1999). She has published two edited collections of interdisciplinary essays, Shame and the Modern Self, and Autobiography and Globalisation, and articles and reviews on autobiography, colonial biography, faith and identity. Her current research interests focus on shame, religion and violence in autobiography and fiction. Ros is a member of the Australian Girard Seminar, with recent essays in the series Violence, Desire and the Sacred (Bloomsbury, 2014 & 2015). Her current project is a book on shame, autobiography and the theory of René Girard. Ros's publications can be viewed at

The Revd Dr Peter C Grundy

Revd Peter Grundy

Peter Grundy is an Anglican priest.  He is also a philosopher (in the Anglo-American analytic tradition).

His research centres on non-cognitivist readings of the Christian religion by both philosophers and theologians, but especially those influenced by the eminent Cambridge philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.  He is also concentrating on aspects of the formal (logical and theistic) problem of evil. And he is interested in systematic theological grounds (including extra-scriptural grounds) supporting seminal Christian doctrines such as atonement.  While not a biblical theologian, Peter takes notice of problems addressed by textual criticism, particularly of the Gospels.

Peter’s background in philosophy includes teaching at Macquarie University and the Australian National University (ANU), which awarded his doctorate.  He also argues his convictions before academic conference audiences, at seminars and in public debates.  He taught theology at Charles Sturt University over a period of seven years. And he comes from the philosophy program at ANU, having been, most recently, a Visiting Fellow there.  At ACCC, he is a Senior Research Fellow.

Toni Hassan

Toni HassanToni Hassan is a Walkley Award-winning journalist. She has been an adviser in federal politics and with the ACT Human Rights Commission in the area of children and young people's advocacy. She also brings to the role extensive experience in the not-for-profit sector.

Toni writes a regular column for The Canberra Times exploring her interconnected interests of community development, reconciliation, faith, participatory democracy and visual art.

She is the winner of a Human Rights award for excellence in journalism.

Professor Wayne Hudson

Wayne Hudson Wayne Hudson is Research Professor at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Canberra. He is an intellectual historian and a social philosopher who works across the areas of philosophy, history, politics and religion. His research covers religious thought, utopianism and social reform, the Enlightenment and the postsecular. He is recognised as the English language expert on the Jewish German Philosopher Ernst Bloch and is also a leading historian of English deism. He wrote his D. Phil. at Oxford, under the supervision of the Polish philosopher Leszek Kołakowski and the American intellectual historian Martin Jay. Subsequently he was elected a Junior Research Fellow in Philosophy and delivered the first lectures on postmodernism at Oxford. He also taught philosophical anthropology for seven years at the University of Utrecht.

Wayne's first monograph The Marxist Philosophy of Ernst Bloch (1982), still the definitive work in English, showed that Bloch was a process philosopher like Bergson and Whitehead. Building on his work on Bloch, he then engaged with central problems in religious and social thought, especially the relationship between secularity and Enlightenment in some twenty books and more than eighty articles and book chapters. He has taken a special interest in questions about civil society, republicanism and citizenship.

Three recent books, The English Deists: Studies in Early Enlightenment (2009), Enlightenment and Modernity: The English Deists and Reform (2009) and an edited collection, Atheism and Deism Revalued (2014), throw new light on the emergence of deism and atheism. A further monograph, Australian Religious Thought, to be published by Monash Publishing in 2016, shows that religious thought in Australia has been much more significant than historians have recognised, and that religiously inflected Enlightenment has played a significant part in Australian history. He is currently writing a monograph on postsecular Enlightenment.

Trained initially in law, Professor Hudson is interested in questions about civil society, republicanism and citizenship. He has also worked on multi-faith dialogue. Among his many edited books are Islam Beyond Conflict with Azyumardi Azra, Civil Society in Asia with David Schak, Rethinking Australian Citizenship with John Kane, Australian Republicanism with Mark McKenna, and Creating Australia with Geoffrey Bolton.

Dr Douglas Hynd

Dr Douglas HyndDouglas Hynd is Adjunct Research Fellow of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. He has recently completed a PhD at the Australian Catholic University on the impact on church-related welfare agencies of contracting with government.

He has worked in the Australian Public Service on social policy, community programs and indigenous affairs, and has taught as a sessional lecturer at St Mark's National Theological Centre in Christian Ethics, and Australian Church and Society. He has research interests in the role of Christian churches and their agencies in social policy, the engagement of theology with politics, political theory and anthropology and the significance of Anabaptism and the peace witness for Christian presence and engagement in a post-secular society.

He has been actively involved in refugee issues through Canberra Refugee Support and Love Makes a Way.

Dr Bill Leadbetter

Dr Bill LeadbetterBill Leadbetter is a historian, teacher, writer, commentator and sometime politician. Currently a Cathedral Scholar of St George’s Cathedral and Adjunct Associate Professor in History at Notre Dame, he has been a teacher for over thirty years. For seventeen years Professor Leadbetter was a teacher of History at both Secondary and Tertiary levels, and then for a decade, a Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer, in the School of Education at Edith Cowan University.

He then embarked on a brief political career, during which he was, for a very short time, a member of the Western Australian Legislative Council. He currently works in Government as a speechwriter and senior policy adviser.

He holds an Honours degree and a Doctorate in Ancient History from Macquarie University, and has published a number of books, both in his own name and in partnership with others. He is a past member of the History Council of WA, the Course Advisory Committee for the WA Curriculum Council for Ancient History (which he also chaired for four years), and the examining panel for School Ancient History. He is a graduate of the Australian Institute for Company Directors, and a member of the Australian College of Educators. He holds both a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for teaching, and a national award for teaching for his work in developing effective strategies in Middle Years education.

In addition to his academic work, he is an active participant in public life, having given over fifty public lectures, contributed to the print media and was a regular commentator on social issues on the ABC Sunday Nights with John Cleary program.

Bill remains deeply interested in the intersection between faith and public life, and in the insights that a study of the history of the Church can afford.

Bill is Lay Canon and Treasurer of St George’s Anglican Cathedral in Perth, a member of the Council of the Diocese of Perth and a Trustee of the Perth Diocese.

Dr Christine Ledger

Christine LedgerDr Christine Ledger studied science at the Australian National University in Canberra and her postgraduate studies branched into the field of science, technology and society studies at Murdoch University (BSc (Hons)), and the University of New South Wales (Master of Science and Society). In 2004 she was awarded a PhD from Charles Sturt University, studying at St Mark's Theological Centre in Canberra. Her thesis discussed themes of technological culture, human creativity and community.

Much of Christine's working life has been with ecumenical organisations, including the Australian Council of Churches, the Commission for Christian World Service and the Christian Conference of Asia, based in Hong Kong. As an academic associate, she has taught courses related to science and religion, ecotheology and God and creation. Christine is currently writing about the life of Vernon Cornish who died young when he was Anglican Bishop-elect of Tasmania.

Dr Brendan Long

Dr Brendan LongBrendan Long is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. He is an economist with over two decades of experience in key government agencies (Treasury, Productivity Commission, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Office of National Assessments) and has held leadership policy roles in national peak organisations in the private and not-for-profit sectors (including Catholic Social Services Australia and National Disability Services).

He has also been a senior political adviser for six years to Federal politicians including Simon Crean, Joel Fitzgibbon, Joseph Ludwig and Stephen Conroy.

He holds a BEc from the ANU, a M.Litt from the ANU and a PhD from the University of Cambridge and has published work on the religious aspects of Adam Smith's thought in leading international journals. He is a member of the Australian Catholic Theological Association.

Dr Long is working for the Centre on public theology and social policy applying Christian theology to social and economic policy issues as part of the Civil Society research program of the Centre. His latest project is a report on Welfare Reform for people disability and he is writing a piece for the St Mark's review on the social and ethical implications of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Dr Graeme McLean

Graeme McLeanGraeme McLean is a Senior Lecturer and the Philosophy Co-ordinator in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. Originally from Melbourne, he studied at Monash (BA (Hons) and MA) and Oxford (BPhil and DPhil). He has had short teaching stints at Monash and Melbourne universities and at Regent College, Vancouver. From 1990 to 2004 he was a member of the Philosophy Department of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He joined CSU in 2005. His main philosophical interests are in the theory of knowledge, applied ethics, and philosophy of religion. He is especially interested in how philosophy can assist Christian apologetics and ethics.

Some recent relevant research includes 'Critical Review Article: Ethics and AIDS in Africa: The Challenge to Our Thinking', Developing World Bioethics, Vol. 7, No. 3, Dec. 2007; 'Theology and Philosophy: Friends or Foes in the University?', St Mark's Review, No. 210, Dec. 2009; 'The Imagination of Our Hearts', St Mark's Review, No. 221, Sept. 2012; 'The Futility of Our Minds', St Mark's Review, No. 227, Feb. 2014; and, 'Antipathy to God', Sophia, Vol. 54, No. 1, April 2015.

Dr David Milikian

Dr David Milikian

David has been making films for thirty years. His first role in TV was as presenter of the highly successful ABC series, The Sunburnt Soul. He was Head of Religious Broadcasting at the ABC for seven years and has presented, and produced, programs for Four CornersSixty Minutes and more recently for Sunday Night on Channel 7.

David is a Uniting Church minister, author of several books and many articles dealing with religion and New Religious Movements and Cults. At the moment he is working on an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment set in Newtown, Sydney.

David was the Founding Director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture which is sponsoring the Religious Short Film Prize.

Photo: Dean Sewell/Fairfax Syndication​

Dr Natalie Mobini

Dr Natalie Mobini Dr Natalie Mobini is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.

Dr Mobini has been an active contributor to inter-faith dialogue at the national level in Australia for almost 20 years. She represents the Australian Bahá'í Community on the Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations (APRO), and she convenes the Canberra chapter of the Women’s Interfaith Network (WIN). She was a member of the Australian delegation to the Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue held in Yogyakarta in October 2016 under the auspices of MIKTA. Dr Mobini has written and spoken on the need to broaden and deepen dialogue at a wide range of conferences and other events. Her paper “Encountering the Other “Other”: A Bahá’í Perspective” appears in the publication Interfaith Dialogue: Global Perspectives (Palgrave, 2016).
Dr Mobini is the Director of the Office of External Affairs for the Australian Bahá’í Community. In this capacity she represents the Bahá’í community in its dealings with the Australian government, and in its work with other community organisations to promote peace, human rights, the equality of women and men, and inter-religious understanding. She holds a doctorate in Indonesian history and is the author of several published papers and a monograph in this field.

Professor Satendra Nandan

Satendra NandanSatendra Nandan is an Adjunct Research Professor at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.

Born in Fiji, Satendra Nandan studied  in India, England and Australia. He joined the University of the South Pacific in 1969.He completed his PhD in English at the Australian National University.

He was elected to Fiji Parliament in 1982 and again in 1987 when he became a minister in the  Dr Bavadra's cabinet until  the first Fijian coup  on 14 May 1987.

In December 1987, he came to the Humanities Research Centre, ANU, as a Visiting Fellow and subsequently joined the University of Canberra. In 2005 he resigned from the University of Canberra and returned to Fiji with his wife Dr Jyoti Nandan (ANU) to help establish the University of Fiji for the poor.

The University of Canberra  made him an Emeritus Professor for his distinguished service as a professor, creative writer and  the elected international Chair of the Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (ACLALS) among other multicultural contributions to the wider community.

An award-winning writer, Satendra has authored and edited 20 books on Culture and Literature .

In 2013 Satendra helped draft Fiji's new democratic constitution for democratic elections. Canberra is now Satendra and Jyoti's home with their three children and four grandchildren.

Prof. John Painter

John PainterJohn Painter was educated in NSW country where tennis, cricket and athletics became the most important school activities and remained formative life influences, along with the love of mountains and sea, boats, canoes and kayaks. He studied theology in Sydney, London and Durham (UK). A lover of music from Monteverdi to Philip Glass, Peter Sculthorpe and Ross Edwards, John tries to live, breathe, and work in the context of music.

Prof. Painter's teaching and research interests are Early Christianity and Early Judaism; God-talk in the Early Church; Hermeneutics and contextual theology; and, the New Testament and contextual theology. His current research is focused in three projects: The role of a biblical creation theology in the face of the threat posed by the human destruction of the natural world and the accelerating rate of the extinction of species; The promise and problematic nature of the Gospel of John for a constructive Christian Theology in the Twenty First Century; and, The role of James the brother of Jesus in the Earliest Church as a model of Christian leadership.

Prof. Bruce A. Stevens

Bruce StevensProfessor Bruce A. Stevens holds the Wicking Chair of Ageing and Practical Theology at Charles Sturt University and is the director of the Colloquium for Ageing Perspectives and Spirituality. He was previously Associate Professor in clinical psychology at the University of Canberra where he convened the program with more than 60 graduate students from 2009-2014. He is an endorsed Clinical and Forensic Psychologist with a part-time private practice at Canberra Clinical and Forensic Psychology, a practice he founded in the early 1990s. He has been chair of the Canberra section of the Clinical College of the Australian Psychological Society. He gives many professional workshops on couple therapy throughout Australia. He has is a trainer in Schema Therapy with both individual and couple accreditation with the ISST. He has written six books with the most recent Schema therapy for couples: Healing relationships, in press with Wiley, with international authors Dr Chiara DiFrancesco (USA) and Dr Eckhard Roediger (Germany).

Prof. David Tacey

David TaceyDavid Tacey is Emeritus Professor of Humanities at La Trobe University, Melbourne, and Research Professor at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Canberra. He is an interdisciplinary scholar and public intellectual who has written extensively on spirituality, religion, youth experience and mental health. He is the author of two hundred articles and chapters, and fourteen books, including Edge of the Sacred; Re-Enchantment: The New Australian Spirituality; and The Spirituality Revolution. His most recent book is Beyond Literal Belief: Religion as Metaphor.

David grew up in central Australia alongside Aboriginal cultures, and has a life-long interest in indigenous issues. He has written on Aboriginal spirituality and on the suicide epidemic in Aboriginal cultures in Gods and Diseases. He studied literature, art history and philosophy at Flinders University and completed a PhD in literature and psychoanalysis at the University of Adelaide. He undertook post-doctoral studies in the United States on a Harkness Fellowship. His books have been published internationally, and some have been translated into Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

Rev. Dr Ray Williamson OAM

Ray WilliamsonThe Reverend Dr Ray Williamson is an Anglican priest, a graduate of Sydney and Newcastle universities and of St John's Theological College, Morpeth, and ordained in Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle. He has been a theological teacher throughout his ordained ministry as well as serving in several parishes in Newcastle, Sydney and Canberra. He was the General Secretary of the NSW Ecumenical Council for twenty-one years, during which time he also acted as the secretary to two national ecumenical commissions. His PhD thesis An Introduction to Hegel's Philosophy of Religion was published in 1984; he has edited two volumes of documents from the bilateral dialogues between churches in Australia (Stages on the Way, 1994; and Stages on the Way II, 2007); and his history of councils of churches in Australia, Pilgrims of Hope: An Ecumenical Journey 1980-2010, was published in 2014. He was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2008 for his ecumenical work. In 1997, he was the co-founder of the Centre for Ecumenical Studies, and within the ACC&C he continues to serve as the Director of that Centre. He is married to the Reverend Dr Erica Mathieson, and has two daughters and two grandsons.

Professor Susan West

Professor Susan West

Adjunct Professor Susan West has over forty years’ experience as a performer, educator, composer and arranger. Her work in developing pre-tertiary music programs and post-graduate teacher-training is at the cutting edge of music education with wide-ranging influences from traditional music philosophies, both ancient and modern, to holistic and therapeutic uses of music

Professor West trained in music performance at the Melbourne University Conservatorium of Music and the Victorian College of the Arts and obtained a post-graduate degree in music education from the Kodaly Institute of Hungary. She played Principal Piccolo with the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra in 1980 and then Associate Principal and Principal Flute with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra from 1981-1985. During this time she was also a member of the Australian Wind Virtuosi, touring nationally and internationally.

She was invited to the Canberra School of Music in 1984 to help establish the Music Education Program. Recognising a need for different and more successful forms of music education, she continued her studies, first at Charles Sturt University and later with the Institute for Music and Health, New York. She transformed the Music Education Program into the Music Engagement Program, from which emerged an entirely new philosophy for music making that embeds altruistic sharing at the centre of community and professional music making. Her social-therapeutic approach for which she coined the title ‘The Music Outreach Principle’ has affected the musical lives of tens of thousands of teachers, school children, secondary and tertiary students, musicians, seniors, and community members. She not only works as a music educator and researcher but composes and arranges for children, singing groups, instrumental groups, and for film.

Professor West has been recognised through a variety of awards including a National Children’s Week Award, a National Women’s Day Award, a citation for Teaching Excellence from the Carrick Institute, a Community Outreach Award from the Music Council of Australia, an ANU Vice Chancellor’s Award for Community Engagement, and in 2016 was recognised as one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence by the Australian Financial Review. As well as continuing her practice and research in Canberra, Susan is currently collaborating with researchers and practitioners in New Zealand trialling the application of outreach approaches in the South Island.